HEAD COACH BIILL O'BRIEN
Can you talk about QB Deshaun Watson's past of big games?
"Yeah, you're right. Relative to college, national championship games, playoff games, ACC championship games, he's been in a lot of big moments. Obviously, the difference is this is the NFL, but I think there's something to be said for that, no doubt. That was one of the things that we really looked at relative to drafting him."
What do you recall from the day you cut Redskins S D.J. Swearinger Sr.?
"Nothing. No response. Nothing."
What do you see from Redskins S D.J. Swearinger Sr. now?
"Productive player, good tackler, competitive guy, got a bunch of interceptions. Good player."
What has been the key to allowing just 15.2 points per game over the last five games?
"I think guys are doing their jobs really well. I think that has to continue. I think that everybody's communicating well, everybody's playing good technique. I think the tackling has to get better but I think the tackling's been decent. But, I think it can improve. So, I think everybody's just doing their job really well."
How has QB Deshaun Watson managed to take less sacks lately?
"I think that's definitely improved. I think that the sack numbers were pretty high earlier in the year and obviously that's improved lately. I think a lot of things go in to sacks. I don't think it's just – obviously, the offensive line is always looked at relative to that stat, but I think maybe there's times earlier in the year that he held the ball a little bit too long or the back missed a pick up or maybe somebody ran the wrong route. There's so many things that go into that and I think lately that's improved in all areas. So, I think that he does do a good job of understanding that basically you have to have a silent alarm and you have to know the journey's going to be over here pretty quick, so you either have to get rid of it, take off or do something, and I think he's really improved in that area."
Can you talk about DE/OLB Jadeveon Clowney?
"He's done a good job. He's worked really hard this year to come back from some offseason health issues. He plays hard on Sundays, he's been a really good guy in the locker room. He's done everything we've asked him to do. I think the big thing with J.D., and really it's really for the whole team – I don't think there's anything more important than the health of the team moving forward. So, I think if J.D. can stay healthy, feels good, he's going to make a lot of plays for us."
Coming back from 0-3 and winning six straight games, is the challenge keeping guys focused on the team that week?
"I think that's a good question. I think that this is a very focused group. Even the younger players seem to be mature guys, guys that understand that like, OK, this is a big challenge, Washington. We haven't really done anything yet. We've done a good job of digging ourselves out of a hole, but what have we actually done? We're 6-3, great. Now, it's on to the second half of the season and we've got a big challenge here versus a first-place team in the Washington Redskins – first place in the NFC East. I think our guys realize that. They're a very focused group."
How good has DE/OLB Jadeveon Clowney been at setting the edge and stopping the run?
"He's done a good job of that. J.D.'s always had great instincts, so he's always understood. He's a very smart player. He understands when to take chances, when to take risks and I think in the past, maybe he did that a little bit too much every now and then. But, lately, I think he's done a really good job of knowing like, 'Hey, this is a good time for me to basically play good fundamental football.' When he does that, he's very good. Just as good as he is when he loops inside and makes a big play. I think he's really done a good job of improving in that area."
Are you opening the RB D'Onta Foreman 21-day window today?
"Yes. Yep, he'll be out there at practice."
What do you mean when you say you'll have to see what kind of shape RB D'Onta Foreman is in?
"You know, can he carry the ball more than two times in a row without having to go get a drink of water? Like, what type of shape is he is in? He has not done anything on a football field, relative to football, since – when did he get injured? November? Week 11 I think it was. It's not his fault. I'm not saying that's his fault, I'm just saying, he has not done one thing relative to contact or anything. So, we have to do what's best for him, number one, what's best for the player. Then, what's best for the team relative to where he's at."
CB JOHNATHAN JOSEPH
What does it mean to you to be up for the Art Rooney Sportsmanship Award and do you feel like you are up for the award for the respect you have to your teammates and the opposing team?
"Yeah, I think that's the way this game should played at a high level. You want to respect your peers, your teammates, coaches, referees – everybody that's involved in this game. We put a lot of time into it and I think, for me, that's a big honor to be nominated. But, my focus has to be on the Washington Redskins. I'm happy that I got nominated but that's not my goal."
What about QB Deshaun Watson makes you believe in the team while you make this big playoff push?
"It doesn't start now. I think it goes all the way back to training camp, OTAs, everything you see him do before the season to prepare yourself, to put the trust in him as your franchise quarterback. Then, you go back and look throughout the season to where his games like his Jacksonville game, where he's banged up and hurt, he traveled on the road, he had to drive down, however he got there. Just things like that that you see from the quarterback that puts all your trust and faith in him. For me, I'm just going out there and doing my job and I'm sure he'll handle his job."
WR DEMARYIUS THOMAS
What do you think about Redskins CB Josh Norman?
"I've played him the Super Bowl. I've played him five, six times. He's a great player, gets the ball out, he's around the ball a lot. I look forward to it."
How much do you think it helped to be here for a few days extra to work through the playbook with your teammates?
"I think it helped, but you've also got to get the repetitions, too. Repetitions really help more. It's doing it instead of seeing it. I got a chance to be with D4 (Deshaun Watson), I was with him as well, so it was mainly just hearing it and then walking through it."
Have you learned anything about QB Deshaun Watson that you didn't know before coming to the Texans?
"I didn't know it was his second year. The main thing is how he takes control of the huddle. I played with a couple of young guys that did take control of the huddle, and nothing against those guys, it's just that (Watson) does it a different way."
Does this game against the Redskins feel like a 'big game' or is too early to label anything a 'big game'?
"It's a big game – that next game. Next game, next opponent. Both teams are 6-3, both teams are finding ways to win and that's the main thing about this league is getting a W at the end of it. We're looking forward to it. It's the next game, so we've got to put our best foot forward."
QB DESHAUN WATSON
What do you like about the way you're playing right now?
"Just managing the game, doing what I need to do to operate the offense, get points on the board, move the ball down the field and protect the ball. That's the biggest thing, is the operation and protecting the ball and trying to get points on the board."
Do you think taking less hits lately has helped you feel more comfortable in the pocket?
"For sure. For any quarterback, not getting touched or not having too many sacks is always a good thing. But, I'm always comfortable with my guys up front and I put all my trust and belief in those guys that they're going to do their job and make sure that I'm always upright."
You have played in a lot of big games during your football career. Do you think that has helped you prepare for this game against a first-place NFC East team?
"The biggest thing is just focusing on the task at hand, just focusing on today. Not looking ahead, not looking in the past, just focusing on today, Wednesday, getting Wednesday practice in, and making sure we're mastering our craft and detailed on the game plan today and then just taking it one day at a time. If you have that mentality, you will always enjoy and really master the moment now. You just keep that mentality, take it one day at a time and let everything else come to you."
How has it been building chemistry with WR Demaryius Thomas?
"It's been good. Like I said before, we've known each other before, so as far as hanging out and just talking ball, we've done that before. Now, being on the same team and having more time, especially, the past bye week of getting together and getting on the same page, it's been good."
What does RB D'Onta Foreman bring to the offense?
"Another powerhouse, a guy that can run the ball, catch the ball, athletic. He just has all the ability in the world to be the best running back he can be. He's been doing good."
Does this game feel like a big game to you?
"Honestly, they all feel the same, for me at least. Being young and being still new to this league, every game is big to me. Everyone's good. Every week is a test, so I treat every game the same. Of course, it's November. It's getting that time of the season where everything is coming down to crunch time, but for me, every game is big. From game one when I first started last year to now, it's always been big."
You've already played more games this year than you did last season. Has it been a transition or do you feel like you've hit a wall?
"No, not really. Football, I love playing football. If I could play football year round, I'd do that. But, I played 15 straight games in college the past two years and then last year played six, six and a half, seven, and now, of course we have a 16-game season, I already played nine. So, no, it doesn't really bother me."
Your ratio of times sacked and yards lost is skewed. Is that just a coincidence or are you conscious of trying to minimize the loss during the play?
"I guess it just happens. I try not to lose as much yardage as I can. If I do have to eat the sack and have to get tackled for a loss, I try to get as much as I can and get closer to the line of scrimmage so we don't put us in any tougher of situation. I never really thought about it during the situation but I try my best not to lose as much yardage as I can."
When you were rehabbing with DE J.J. Watt, what did you learn about him and how close did you guys get?
"We got real close. We were together all the time, working out, training, rehabbing, coming in at the same time, leaving at the same time, eating lunch at the same time, all those things. So, just becoming best friends. Just seeing him, watching him, asking questions but also just kind of observing his preparation, his work. He's been through injuries before but he's also been as healthy as he can and being at the top of his game like he is now, and I just kind of watch him and how he goes about his business. Very, very detailed in everything he does, takes every rep, every second of the day and he maximizes that opportunity. So, for me, I always had that mindset, but even taking it to another level in just his energy and what he really emphasizes in his work is top-notch."
Can you talk about Redskins S D.J. Swearinger Sr.?
"I don't know him too much. We know a couple guys that played with him and know him, but I don't know too much. He's a great player, he's I guess leading the league in picks and doing what he needs to do for the team, so that's all I can really say about him."
Head Coach Bill O'Brien says the team dug themselves out of an 0-3 hole, but they haven't really done anything yet. What do you have to say about the team digging themselves out of a 0-3 hole?
"You just got to look at the way OB is really saying that. He's not saying that we don't deserve to enjoy the six wins and we haven't done anything, he was just saying we just got ourselves out of the hole, which we're going to enjoy and celebrate, but at the same time, there's still a lot more football to play. We can't get ahead ourselves and think we're just going to walk in to any situation. Every week is going to be a task, every week is going to be a battle and after the bye week it's a whole new season, so we have to continue to build up the momentum and continue to get better each and every week because that's what the great teams do."
What about the Redskins defense makes it so difficult to score against?
"Turnovers. I think they're top-ten, top-five in the league in taking the ball away, so they've been doing a great job of getting the ball and turning the ball over and getting their offense on the field. We have to do a good job of protecting the ball and really executing."
DE J.J. WATT
What are your thoughts on Redskins RB Adrian Peterson and both being candidates for the NFL Comeback Player of the Year award?
"I think he's obviously one of the great running backs of the game. What he's been able to do in his career, but then to be able to come back the way he has and have the type of season he's having – obviously, I know how difficult it is from first-hand experience to come back from injuries, so I'm extremely impressed by what he's been able to do. I have a ton of respect for his game. It's always a good challenge to play against him and I enjoy the competition. It's going to be a good challenge for us."
What do you think about being in the conversation for the NFL Comeback Player of the Year award? Would you rather be in consideration for Defensive Player of the Year?
"I think that one is better than the other one, but all of these things – you play the game and then you let it all play out. That's how it's been my whole career. You don't play to try to win something like that. You just try to go out there and play your game, try to do your best to help your team win and at the end of the year, the chips fall where they may with things like that. There's still a lot of football left. There's a ton of games to be played, and I'm just happy as hell to be playing them and to be having an opportunity to go out there every Sunday and continue to grow and become a better player."
Why do you think Redskins QB Alex Smith has had success against the Texans defense in the past?
"He can run. He can get away with his feet and I think that creates a lot of problems. Obviously, he's a good quarterback. He can get the ball around, spread it around as well, but I think he's really good at getting himself out of tough situations. You turn on the film and he can get himself out of a sack here or he can take off and gain a first down with his feet or score a touchdown with his feet. When you have a guy that can do it through the air and on the ground, it does make it difficult."
What are your thoughts on being in the conversation for Defensive Player of the Year?
"That's a big 'if'. That's a long way away. It's seven-plus weeks away. For me, to be in the conversation – and there are some great defensive players around the league. There's guys playing incredible football around the league that I enjoy watching. Just to be back in the game, to be back in conversations like that and to be able to go out there and perform the way I know I can perform, and like I've said all year long, I'm still not even there yet, but working toward being back to the player I know I can be and am, it feels good. It definitely feels good, but like I said, I'm continuing to improve. I think week-by-week – the bye week was huge for me to get fully healthy and just get some rest and let the body relax a little bit, but I'm really excited about the second half of the season, what we can do as a team and what I can do to help the team."
What needs to happen for you to feel like you're entirely 'back'?
"I don't know. It's more a feel thing than anything. I've definitely gotten a lot closer, like I've said all year long. Week by week, it's getting closer and closer to fully, fully back, but it's just little things. I don't know. Maybe I'll never be there in my own head because it's kind of a perfectionist mindset, but I just really enjoy it. I enjoy the work, I enjoy trying to find things to improve on and I enjoy trying to be at my top level. That's what's so fun about this game is you get a chance every day to work on it."
When Defensive Line Coach Anthony Weaver says you're a coach's dream. What do you think about that?
"I think he's sucking up. I think he's a liar. No, he's a great guy. I love playing for Weav, like I've said all along. In my career, I've been fortunate. I had Wade Phillips, I have RAC (Romeo Crennel), I have Bill Kollar, I have Weav. I've had some great coaches to play for and I'm very lucky and thankful for that and I've had some great teammates around me, too. It's all about the people around you that make the game enjoyable, that make the game fun and I'm definitely having a lot of fun."
Coming off of a six-game winning streak, would you rather have kept playing or did you appreciate having a bye week?
"I'll take a week's rest whenever they'll give it to me. If you have the right guys, you have the right locker room, you have the right type of people, you're going to go back to work just the way you know you have to. You take the bye week, you get the good rest, you get the body regenerated, the mind regenerated. Then, you come back and we're going to put in work on Wednesday, just like a normal Wednesday for us. Then, we're going to do the same thing tomorrow. I think our guys have that mindset. I think we have that chemistry in the room, I think we have the leadership in the room to make sure that we stay focused, that we stay on point. I know the two workouts we've already had this week in the weight room and the practice we had on Monday were great. So, we just need to continue doing that. As long as we hold each other accountable, we're going to be where we need to be."
Have you seen QB Deshaun Watson grow as a leader on this team this season?
"Yeah, I think it's been good. Whether things are going well or things are going poorly throughout the season, we've found a way. I think he's done a good job of that – finding a way, always finding a way and allowing the people around him to believe that there's a way. When you're in a tough situation, especially like we started the season or maybe it's in a game and things aren't going the way you want, you have to be able to look to that guy and know that you can get things going the right way. We definitely do that with him."
How badly do you want this team to make the playoffs?
"We have to win a game. We have to win against the Redskins to even keep conversations like that alive. I think that's part of the reason this team is doing what they're doing and we've had the opportunity to be in this situation is because we've taken it one week at a time and nobody's looking that far ahead. If you start to look that far ahead and you start to think about things like that, that's when you get blindsided."
Defensive Line Coach Anthony Weaver praised your mindset.
"It's a 'what-have-you-done-for-me-lately world.' People tend to forget very quickly what you've done in the past and it's what have you done for me lately? I understand that, I know that. So, I just want to be able to come out here and play the way I know how to play as kind of a reminder to both everybody else and myself of what I'm capable of and like I said, still working toward being that, but guys like Weav, guys like the training staff, the weight room staff, everybody helped me get there – my girlfriend, my family. Everybody helped build that confidence back up because confidence doesn't come naturally after an injury. It's very, very difficult to build back up because you're at a place where you've never really been before. You have to figure out, 'OK, how do I get back to that place?' It's tough, but Weav did some things early on. He helped build my confidence early on that I'm really thankful for, and there are a whole bunch of people in my life that helped mentally get me back to where I needed to be so that physically, I could be the person I need to be on the field, too."
Does your work ethic come naturally, is a mindset or is it a combination?
"I've always said it comes from my parents. It comes from my family. They always taught me at a young age you can do anything you want in the world, but you have to be willing to work for it. They always taught me that. Never has that been tested more than in the last two years with the injuries and everything. My dad was a firefighter and my mom started out as a secretary at her company and worked her way up to become the vice president. I learned from them what it takes to get to where you want to be and how hard you have to work. I'm very thankful that I had them to lean on as I grew up."
What did Defensive Line Coach Anthony Weaver do for you early on to help you bounce back mentally?
"It's personal between us, but he did some cool stuff that he helped me a lot."
When did you feel like you were back to being healthy?
"I don't know. This summer, when the workouts started to go the way I wanted them to go, but then the second half of that Patriots game, we've talked about a couple of times, you start to figure it out. Every week there's a new thing that you start to feel a little bit more and more like yourself. Personally, last game was one of my – when I watch the film and I go back and the way I felt and the way I played – I felt pretty good out there. I just want to continue to build. It's just continuing to build and continuing to grow and get better."
What do you remember about Redskins S D.J. Swearinger Sr. when he was in Houston?
"Playmaker. He makes plays, flies all over the field and makes a lot of plays. Obviously, he's doing that now for them at a very high level. That's what I remember."
CONFERENCE CALL WITH REDSKINS HEAD COACH JAY GRUDEN
What have you seen from DE J.J. Watt on tape so far this season and what kind of problems do Watt and DE/OLB Jadeveon Clowney present for a defense?
"They're both, obviously, very talented, very big, very physical, quick-twitch. They cause of a lot of problems. They move Clowney around quite a bit and they move J.J. around a little bit. You never really can get a beat on them and say, 'OK, he's over the right tackle every time' or 'he's over the left tackle every time.' Sometimes they're over a guard, sometimes they stand up and get over centers and stunt them, pick them and he does a great job, Coach (Romeo) Crennel, does a great job moving those guys around. They're obviously great players – unbelievable talents. I have not seen any effect on J.J. Watt's body, his ability to rush the passer, get off on the snap count, finish plays, disrupt the game at all. He's everything as advertised."
What has Redskins RB Adrian Peterson brought not only to the running game, but also to the locker room in general?
"I just think he's brought a professional leadership quality about him, playmaking toughness about him. He's played through some injuries and weathered the storm as far as that's concerned. Just his production matched with his ability to stay on the field and play through injuries has been outstanding. I think all the young players look up to him. They've all seen him play in his heyday and know he's a Hall of Fame-type player, but until you really get a guy like that in your building and see what makes him tick as far as their work ethic, preparation, physical toughness, mental toughness – I just think it's been a positive for everybody to be around him."
Were you expecting this level of production from Redskins RB Adrian Peterson when you brought him in in the offseason?
"We didn't really have a lot of expectations. We didn't bring him in until late. We were excited about Derrius Guice. He obviously got hurt. We had some other backs in house – Rob Kelley, Samaje (Perine) – both of them got dinged up a little bit, Keith Marshall got dinged up, so our backs were against the wall. We had a workout for some young guys and some older guys. He obviously showed that he was still in great shape, great physical freak still, so we signed him. Once we got him in, we were very hopeful, but you never know because he's had some injuries the last year or two. Knock on wood, he's stayed healthy and been everything we hoped."
What are your thoughts on how Redskins S D.J. Swearinger Sr. has played this season and what has he brought to the defense?
"I think it's his best year by far as a pro. He's been on a couple of teams, obviously he was with Houston and been on some other teams, but I think his familiarity with the system, his ability to communicate and react is really showing up on tape right now. He's one of the vocal leaders we have. He's always got great energy, plays with great passion and he's been a heck of a player for us. I think he's playing as good as any safety in the league."
What have you seen from QB Deshaun Watson and WR DeAndre Hopkins on tape?
"Hopkins is up there with the best. You can rank them however you want to, it doesn't matter – 1A, 1B, 1C, 1D, 1F – whatever it is, he's No. 1 as far as guys that I've seen. His route-running ability sets him apart. He's got great hands, great route-runner, physical, can play physical, tracks the ball as good as anybody. He is everything you want in a wide receiver. Obviously, adding Demaryius Thomas will help them quite a bit, even though they lost (Will) Fuller (V). Deshaun Watson, he's a guy that gives you problems because he can sit back in the pocket and throw accurately, but also, if you try to double team everybody, backs are to the quarterback, he can take it down and run it forever. He's a major problem. He's a next generation-type quarterback that can run and throw and a very effective guy. Coach (Bill) O'Brien is doing an excellent job with him."